Private Members' Business. - Ministerial Pay Recommendations: Motion.

I move:

That Dáil Éireann calls on the Government to defer implementation of the Review Body special pay award for Ministers so as to set a necessary headline in relation to overcoming the current industrial relations difficulties in State companies, maintaining control of public expenditure and improving the competitiveness of our economy.

Fine Gael is opposing the increases of 17 per cent in pay for Ministers for two reasons. First, at a time when the Government is appealing for sacrifices from so many other workers, it is completely irresponsible for it to award such huge increases to itself; and second, on any performance related criteria, the Taoiseach, the Tánaiste and Ministers do not deserve any increase in pay. The Taoiseach is to get an extra £13,900 a year. This increase is about the same as the average industrial worker's total wage. How can the Taoiseach justify awarding himself an increase of as much as the total income that many workers have to live on and use to raise their families? The Taoiseach's increase works out at £267 per week. This increase is over four times the total amount of the non-contributory old age pension. The total amount the Taoiseach will receive is 30 times that received on a weekly basis, or on a montyly basis, by an old age pensioner.

The Tánaiste will get an extra £230 per week. This increase is almost four times more than the individual long term unemployment assistance rate. These increases are being claimed by the same Taoiseach, Tánaiste and Ministers who introduced a tax on unemployment benefit and who abolished — because they could not afford it — pay related benefit. They did these things which affected those at the other end of the income scale while they are now taking these disproportionate increases for themselves. The Taoiseach, the Tánaiste and their Ministers have complacently accepted this huge 17 per cent pay rise, five times as great as the rate of increases awarded to ordinary TDs and far more than the 2 per cent increase for other workers under the Programme for Competitiveness and Work.

The Taoiseach is now the second highest paid Prime Minister in Europe; the Tánaiste is now paid more than eight other EU Prime Ministers. This is scandalous and unsustainable. The British Prime Minister is paid about £1,377 per million British citizens whose interests he has to look after. The Dutch Prime Minister is paid about £5,400 for each million Dutch citizens he has to look after. Our Taoiseach, on the other hand, no doubt reflecting his importance as world statesman and world traveller, now believes he should award himself a pay rate of £27,400 for each million Irish people he looks after. Compare that with £1,377 which the British Prime Minister is paid for each million British citizens he looks after. The Taoiseach is paid over 20 times what John Major gets on a per capita basis.

We know the Taoiseach and the Tánaiste love to travel. "Leaving on a jet plane" would probably have been a very suitable campaign anthem in the general election we nearly had this week. Yet, there is a serious side to some, but by no means all, of this travel by Ministers and the Taoiseach. The Taoiseach, the Tánaiste and their Ministers regularly go to Europe in search of extra aid, extra billions of aid for this country, on the basis that we are one of the poorer members of the European Union. How can they make a good case for that proposition when they are paying themselves more than the other Prime Ministers and Ministers sitting around the table? How convincing is it to say that money should be taken from French or British taxpayers, because Ireland needs it on grounds of poverty, when the people making that case have decided they are entitled to a higher salary than the French and British Prime Ministers whose taxpayers are supposed to find the extra money for this poor country that can afford to pay its Prime Minister more than the rich countries? It does not make sense, and it has been said that in Europe personal relations are important.

If you are making a case around a dinner table or a meeting table that Ireland needs more money and if you are being paid more than the people from whom you are asking that money, it does not help you make your case effectively, especially if the case is Ireland is poor. How can Irish Ministers credibly negotiate a special case for Ireland on the basis of relative disadvantage when the same Ministers pay themselves more than the Ministers from the country whose money we are asking to given to us on ground of relative poverty here.

The Taoiseach should not forget that workers covered by national pay agreements, such as the Programme for Competiveness and Work, must prove genuine improvements in productivity and more efficient work practices to justify any extra pay under a special pay claim. Looking back on the shambles of the past few weeks, how could anyone say that a pay increase is justified for these Ministers? All Ministers now have an array of programme managers and other assistants financed by the taxpayer to help them in their work. This reduces the personal load that falls on Ministers and further undermines the argument that a disproportionate personal pay increase for Ministers is justified.

Under the Programme for Competiveness and Work agreement to special payments in the public service must result in savings and improved quality of public service in whatever public service area the extra special pay increases are being justified. What savings has this Cabinet made to justify an extra pay increase for the individual members of the Cabinet? Can Ministers justify this enormous pay increase through their savings in their own area of work? These are the criteria that apply under the Programme for Competiveness and Work.

There is little evidence of savings or frugality of any kind on the part of Ministers of this Government in their own areas of work. We have only to look at the vastly inflated budgets for personnel and travel in Minister's offices to see that instead of savings, there have been increases in outgoings in areas directly controlled by Ministers. There is little evidence of saving in the increased use of luxury hotels, the demand to use only the presidential suite in a particular hotel as a condition for staying there, the wasteful use of the Government jet and helicopter and the awarding of jobs in the public service to relatives, friends and cronies at the taxpayer's expense. Those are now seen as part of the essential perks of office. They do not represent savings, but extra expenditure which would not justify a special pay increase for Ministers.

Have taxpayers seen any improved quality of public service from the Ministers concerned? Last week the Taoiseach and Tánaiste were in such a sulk with one another they could not bring themselves to have a telephone conversation about the position in TEAM Aer Lingus and Irish Steel when it appeared 3,000 jobs might be lost. An employer would sack two employees who were unable to have a civil telephone conversation about a major problem which involved them, yet at the highest level in the Government there are two people who put their pride at such a premium that, even though 3,000 jobs were at risk, they could not bring themselves to talk to one another about the matter. They do not deserve to be in employment.

The Taoiseach and his Ministers have treated the Government as if it were their private property: the levers of powers are used for their benefit; friends and relatives are parachuted into specially created Government jobs; national lottery funds are distributed by Ministers as sweetners to vocal constituents and lobby groups; statutory bodies, such as Bord Fáilte and the VHI, are taken under political control to maximise patronage and unelected minders — briefers — run the country while their Ministers cross the globe on even longer and more frequent trips.

Some months ago we saw how Ministers handled that most precious of all civic rights, the right to a passport, the right to citizenship of this egalitarian republic. The award of citizenship was done in secret on the basis of a recommendation from one Minister to another. As a result of one such chain of recommendations, a huge sum was invested in a company substantially owned by the Taoiseach——

The Deputy is straying very far from the Gleeson report.

I am talking about the requirement to get value for money from employees who look for a special pay increase.

The Deputy is giving us great value for money.

We have not got value for money from the Taoiseach, a Taoiseach who treats the matters with which he is charged in a cavalier fashion, one of which was the award of a passport. That was a crude example of patronage. The Taoiseach made the truly amazing claim that he did not know of this investment in his company, even though his son is managing director and his wife a director. He claimed this year that he had no involvement in C & D Foods for 14 years, yet under oath at the beef tribunal in 1992 he contradicted that.

I hesitate to interrupt the Deputy but he is deviating considerably from the motion before the House dealing with the recommendations of the Gleeson report on salary scales for Members of this House.

This man who either misled the public about the award of a passport——

The Deputy should return to the motion before the House.

——or told untruths at the beef tribunal does not deserve a £13,000 pay increase.

Please, Deputy.

He does not deserve a £13,000 pay increase if he cannot be relied on to tell the truth.

The imputation that An Taoiseach told an untruth is uncalled for.

It is called for.

It is uncalled for and I ask the Deputy to consider the seriousness of the allegation; the suggestion that the Taoiseach or any Member told an untruth must be withdrawn.

May I explain to you, Sir——

No, Deputy, you have made a serious allegation——

And I stand over it.

——against a Member of the House in respect of his character, good name and credibility.

He said he had no involvement in C & D Foods for 14 years and under oath at the beef tribunal he said he had been involved in it up to 1987.

Deputy Bruton, I must ask you to withdraw the imputation that an untruth was told.

I cannot. One of those statements must be untrue, they cannot both be true.

The Deputy may not resume if he takes that view. He is defying the Chair.

The record speaks for itself.

It is a long standing tradition of this House that when serious allegations are made about a Member stating an untruth, they must be withdrawn. If the Deputy seriously believes that to be the truth, it would be more appropriate for him to put down a substantive motion on the matter, but he may not hurl an allegation across the floor by way of innuendo——

The more serious motion is on the Order Paper.

The substantive motion is——

Deputy Bruton, I must insist——

——that this man does not deserve a £13,000 pay increase because he gave inconsistent evidence in regard to his involvement in his personal business.

——that the Deputy withdraws the imputation of lies, untruths and deliberate untruths. That imputation must be withdrawn before we proceed.

The fact is——

Deputy Bruton should not argue with the Chair. It is fundamental to the role of the Chair that such allegations and innuendo be withdrawn. I am asking the Deputy unreservedly to withdraw the imputation made.

On a point of order——

Please, Deputy, I will not hear a point of order while I am dealing with gross disorder.

On a point of order——

I must ask Deputy Bruton to withdraw that imputation.

I cannot withdraw the statement, that would be impossible.

The Deputy must then withdraw from the House.

That is disgraceful. The Chair knows that the speech made by Deputy Bruton is in accordance with the facts.

Deputy Owen, the Deputy knows that I am not concerned about what is said outside the House, I am concerned with the procedures of the House.

On a point of order——

I have told Deputy Harte on many occasions that he may not interrupt me when I am dealing with disorder.

Surely I am entitled to make a point of order.

No, not when I am dealing with disorder.

On a point of information——

Let us hear Deputy Harte's point of order.

On a previous occasion the Chair asked me to withdraw the word "untruth". On checking the records of the House I discovered that there is a convention in the Chair's office which shows——

I am standing by a fundamental principle. I do not know how we can proceed in a democratic assembly such as this without having regard to the word of the Members.

The Taoiseach has not given his word on this, he is not here. If he comes in and clarifies the matter, I will accept his word.

I would prefer if he were here so that he could disclaim such a remark.

He is not here.

He should be here.

Is it too much to ask you, Sir, to examine the record in this regard?

If the Taoiseach gives his word that one of those statements is true, I will accept that the other is not true.

If the disruption of business continues and the rule of the Chair continues to be ignored I will adjourn the proceedings.

Nobody is ignoring the ruling of the Chair.

I call on Deputy Yates to continue the debate.

Deputy Bruton has not yet concluded and we are sharing our time.

The Deputy knows the position in relation to Deputy Bruton. He must withdraw the allegation of untruth and lies in respect of the Taoiseach. If he does that he may proceed.

How is it proposed that we proceed if there is a manifest inconsistency between what a Member says on one occasion and on another?

This is not a court of law.

I appreciate that, Sir, but it is a serious matter.

The Chair is not granting me my rights.

Deputy Bruton, I afford you every right. As a well known parliamentarian, Deputy Bruton knows the rules of this House and he knows full well that when the Chair demands an accusation of the type he made be withdrawn, he should withdraw it unreservedly.

How can I withdraw it when the Taoiseach contradicted himself?

That is true.

The Deputy is compounding the matter.

Deputy Bruton is a Deputy of long experience and he is not prone to making statements that are untruthful or infringe on the personal qualities of a Deputy. Deputy Bruton referred to two statements made by the Taoiseach which are contradictory.

He has gone much further than that.

They cannot both be right.

A Cheann Comhairle, the point I wish to make——

We can proceed when the rulings of the Chair are adhered to, otherwise I propose to adjourn the proceedings.

Will the Chair accept it if I say the Taoiseach's statements are irreconcilable and inconsistent?

I am asking the Deputy——

I will leave out the word "untrue".

I must exercise my duty in this regard as I have done so many times in the presence of Deputy Bruton and other Members of this House. The allegation made is of such a serious nature I must insist that it be withdrawn and that includes everything.

I am willing to replace the word "untrue" with the words "irreconcilable and inconsistent".

I take it that the Deputy withdraws the allegation.

I am willing to replace the word "untrue" with the words "irreconcilable and inconsistent".

I accept that, with a certain amount of reluctance. I understand the Deputy's desire to conform with the rulings of the Chair——

As always.

——and the House and I accept it on the basis. I call the Minister on a point of order.

The Taoiseach on several occasions has clarified the matter to the House. I accept Deputy Bruton has withdrawn the allegation, but it is totally unreasonable that he should have used the word "untruth" in respect of the Taoiseach.

I take it that the allegation is in essence withdrawn.

I do not believe the Taoiseach has clarified the position.

He has not clarified it.

He should clarify it in the House.

Let us get off this subject, otherwise I will do as I stated and adjourn the proceedings.

We are talking about the Taoiseach's fitness for a pay increase of £13,000 a year.

Let us stick to that.

Everything has to come into that.

The beef tribunal report also showed that the Taoiseach was politically untrustworthy. It showed a Taoiseach who recklessly broke almost all the terms of a Cabinet decision by which he was bound. He casually gave away £2.74 million of taxpayer's money to the Goodman organisation. He made arbitrary decisions at secret meetings. He deceitfully concealed information from the Minister for Finance and from officials of his Department. He took part in breaking the law in respect of an IDA grant agreement. He pushed through a tax amnesty that would allow benefit to the Goodman organisation even though he knew its tax practices were before the beef tribunal. He pretended he did not know he was insuring intervention beef, even though all the written evidence throughout the beef tribunal report shows that he could not have avoided knowing that the beef he was insuring for export to Iraq was intervention beef.

I believe that the beef tribunal report showed a pattern of conduct that clearly showed the Taoiseach as unfit for the office he holds, or any other senior public office and certainly undeserving of a pay increase of £13,000 per year from taxpayers. Yet Fianna Fáil and now, it appears, Labour, believe he should get that increase.

The trappings of power are much loved and abused by this Government. As well as paying themselves excessively, they like to live well. The best hotels, the sunniest beaches, the finest restaurants must be found. What better way to do that than with the aid of a private jet.

To the embarrassment of the Air Corps it is now habitually used, perhaps against its wishes, as the aerial wing of Fianna Fáil. It was only natural that the Taoiseach and Tánaiste should meet at Baldonnel airport on Sunday night as the Taoiseach called on an Air Corps helicopter, paid for by taxpayers, to ferry him back from a Fianna Fáil convention, in Cork. That is abuse of taxpayers money for a party purpose. On other occasions he travelled by Government jet to attend Fianna Fáil fund raising events in the United States while there on trips financed wholly by taxpayers. Fianna Fáil made no contribution to the cost of his trip. It was all paid for by taxpayers even though it was partly used by him for Fianna Fáil fund raising.

To get a special pay increase, ordinary public servants are supposed to make savings. The use of the Government jet and other Air Corps aircraft and helicopters by the Taoiseach and Tánaiste is an example not of saving but of gross waste of public money. I am reliably informed that the Government jet costs £5,000 an hour to keep in the air. On this basis the Taoiseach's recent round the world trip cost a minimum of £250,000 for travel alone, duplicating routes with numerous scheduled flights that could have been used. The now almost monthly transatlantic trips of the Taoiseach cost a minimum of £50,000 each — duplicating routes that Aer Lingus flies twice daily.

So widespread has the wasteful use of the Government jet become that I am told it has, on occasion flown empty across the Atlantic — still costing £5,000 per hour — to meet the travel whims of other Ministers who were somewhere in Europe. The Government jet, other aircraft and helicopters are used to ferry Ministers and their families around the country and abroad to meet holiday plans, attend funerals and deal with Fianna Fáil financial business.

I do not believe this is true.

It is shocking.

I am told the jet is now consuming so much of the Air Corps fuel and maintenance budget that many routine training and operational activities of the Air Corps cannot be completed. There is not enough money left in the Vote as it has been used to finance the Government jet.

That is very serious. The planes will have to stay on the ground.

If the Air Corps had a frequent flyer programme, Government Ministers could probably go to the moon and back on the accumulated points at this stage. The Taoiseach is likely to have enough points to go as far as Mars.

He should stay there.

The abuse of the Government jet and other aircraft, paid for by taxpayers, and the consequent run-down of the Air Corps is so serious that I am asking the Dáil Committee on Public Accounts to make a special investigation into this matter. So far we have been unable to get information on the cost of ministerial trips using the Government jet, but the waste is so great that it must be brought into the open. It is wrong that our Defence Forces should be deprived of necessary moneys because those moneys are being used for this purpose. If there is to be a Government jet, it should be accounted for in the Taoiseach's Vote.

Fine Gael has consistently criticised the growth in the public service pay bill. The Minister for Finance is making noises about controlling public spending in next year's budget. How can he be taken seriously when he awards himself a 17 per cent pay increase? Special pay awards, like the one the Government is awarding itself, have over the years forced a divergence between pay in the public and private sectors. Most employees in the private and public sectors receive only annual inflationrelated increases. What moral authority has the Government got to call for wage restraint or spending cuts when the Ministers award themselves a 17 per cent personal pay increase wholly at the taxpayers' expense, when Deputies and others in the public sector are being awarded a 3 per cent pay increase? What justification is there for Ministers awarding themselves 17 per cent when they have so many facilities that others do not have? I understand that new arrangements for evaluating special pay increases are to be made. I wonder why the increases to be awarded to Ministers were not evaluated in that way?

Public spending is running out of control across the board. Over the past four years while prices have gone up by 10 per cent, public spending has risen by 40 per cent. Workers all over the country rightly complain about high taxes. There are two ways to give workers more take home pay; cut tax rates or raise the rate of pay. The Government controls tax rates and also agrees limits to pay increases. This applies to most workers but not to the Government. In its isolated ivory tower surrounded by a golden circle of fawning admirers its members, it seems, can avoid high taxes simply by awarding themselves more pay; others do not have that facility. The announcement of these huge increases was handled with deviousness and stealth. On the eve of a major Dáil debate on the beef tribunal report and the announcement of the IRA ceasefire which the Government knew about, the Ministers' pay award was quietly slipped out. If the Government thought this shabby tactic would fool the people, it certainly underestimated their intelligence. I understand in a telephone poll on RTE this morning, over 3,000 people voted against this increase while only 169 supported it. A famous New York hotelier, charged with tax evasion, once said that taxes were only for the little people. This Government is showing exactly the same contempt by treating the people as "little people". Do as we say, the Government tells the people, not as we do. The people will judge the Government by its actions and not by its rhetoric. They have taken note and will not forget.

I concur with all my colleague and party leader, Deputy John Bruton, said. He succinctly put the case against this historic pay agreement. Never before has there been such a pay hike to anyone in the public service. Indeed it will go down in the annals of history as the most generous self indulgence of any Cabinet.

Fine Gael's Minister, John Boland gave us 19 per cent the last time that party were in power.

We will come to all of those things during the debate.

Before the last election the Labour Party lectured everybody on the need to make Irish politics more ethical. It specifically ran a campaign to abandon what was then termed "the golden circle". When it got into Government it stopped the gravy train, but only long enough for it to get on. We must now ask the Labour Party how it can say it is putting justice into economics when it can give a widow an additional £1.80 per week this year and at the same time grant our hero the Tánaiste an extra £230 a week. How can trust be put back into politics when the Cabinet increased its pay by 17 per cent while ordinary workers only got the 2 per cent under the Programme for Competitiveness and Work? A new golden circle has been established. It mingles with the rich and powerful, particularly in the United States. It travels the world in its own jets; it is surrounded by a court of cronies in the form of special advisers and programme managers and it has the most palatial offices. It is, namely, our new champagne and caviar Cabinet. Soon resentment of the Government will resemble the views of the tabloid press about royalty in Great Britain.

Which of them is Prince Charles?

I was disappointed with the poor turnout on the Labour benches tonight. Not one element of its conscientious rump could turn up. We will not even see on the plinth the wrestling match with their conscience on this subject. However, when the ministerial Mercs run down that dual carriageway to Cork, pass the Silver Springs and turn left over the River Lee and spread out to canvass Cork North Central and South Central the message will be clear because this Government is brass-necked and bare-cheeked enough to brazen this debate out. More letters have been received by editors of newspapers on this topic than on any other in living memory and all polls have shown an overwhelming revulsion by ordinary people at what is being proposed in a year in which the Minister for Finance has singled out certain people for particular hardship. I refer to the decision to abolish pay-related benefit to unemployed people who also find unemployment benefit being taxed for the first time, resulting in many people, part time workers and married women who have to scrape for a living and to educate their children, being deprived of up to £28.50 a week. Many householders faced the family home tax for the first time because of the widening of the net. Mortgage relief and VHI relief squeezed the middle classes again by reducing relief to the standard rate of tax. Simultaneously there are no bounds to the Government's display of arrogance and extravagance. The pay rise of over 17 per cent is out of line with all Government policies on pay control.

Where are the socialist principles of equality and social justice when the total increase for a widow in a year is £93.60? I have to say, if we are calling a spade a spade, that what has not come out so far in the public debate is that Ministers not only have a whopping salary, they also have a chauffered Mercedes with two full-time chauffeurs and get an expense allowance of £5,640 on top of a TD constituency allowance. We are talking about an additional tax free perk of £8,000 to ice the cake.

It is no wonder the Government was able, with alacrity, to put together a sub-committee to mediate on difficulties between the Tánaiste and the Taoiseach. There is the imperative to cling together so that they can reap the full rewards of what has been backdated to 1 March and will be paid on 1 April.

I will deal with the Minister's amendment in replying to the debate because I am fascinated to know what the Minister will say. He and I know there is a problem of low pay in the public service. Before this award in the four year period between 1987 and 1992, a clerical officer, a clerk typist, the lowest grade had received a pay increase of 36 per cent while the pay of secretaries of Departments went up by 101 per cent. Already the rich are getting richer under Fianna Fáil in office. Then we have the international comparison. I thank The Sunday Tribune for its invaluable research in converting it into Irish punts and so on. We are acknowledged to be the third poorest country in Europe.

Is that post-devaluation?

This research includes the inflators and deflators and gives the full benefit of the ministerial increases. We see that the poor Greeks only get one-third of what Deputy Reynolds gets. A Government spokesman said we were not comparing like with like when comparing the Taoiseach's salary with that of John Major. Of course that is true as John Major has a far more onerous schedule, a far bigger economy to run and many more global interests. John Major is worth much more money, but Albert has to get £18,000 more and, of course, Dick has to get substantially more than most prime ministers.

The last laugh I got out of this was when I picked up the Irish Independent this morning and saw the Fine Gael motion described as a cynical measure. I find it difficult to take lectures on cynicism from a Government Minister who tried to slip this through knowing that news coverage of the IRA ceasefire would deluge the front pages of the papers. It was a deliberate attempt to camouflage and hide from the public a level of self-indulgence that can only be described as startling and outrageous.

I move amendment No. 1:

To delete all words after "That" and substitute the following:—

"Dáil Éireann—

—acknowledges the independent and expert role performed by the Review Body on Higher Remuneration in the Public Sector over the last 25 years in providing advice on remuneration levels to the Government at various times,

—recognises that it has been the policy of various Governments to accept and implement the recommendations of the Review Body and that the Government accepted in principle the recommendations in Report No. 35 of the Review Body when that Report was published in 1992, and

—supports the implementation of the recommendations in respect of all groups dealt with in Report No. 35, without exception, on the deferred phasing basis, extending over 1994 and 1995, decided on by the Government, this approach being in line with arrangements for other similar cases agreed with the Irish Congress of Trade Unions in the context of the negotiation the Pay Agreement which forms part of The Programme for Competitiveness and Work.”

The amendment sets out for the information of the House that we are dealing with pay increases which were recommended by an independently constituted and expert review body, the Review Body on Higher Remuneration in the Public Sector, that similarly recommended increases have in the past always been implemented as a matter of policy by the Government of the day, that the recommendations we are now dealing with are those in Review Body Report No. 35 which were made in 1992 and accepted then by the Government and that, therefore, implementation of the recommendations has already been deferred by two years.

The amendment seeks the support of the House for implementation of the recommendations, in full, on the phased basis decided on and approved by the Government. This involves payment of a series of increases recommended from 1992 and payable in 1994-1995. It extends still further into the future the element of deferral for these awards. It is pointed out that full implementation of the increases is in accordance with the wishes of the Irish Congress of Trade Unions who raised the matter at the conclusion of negotiations on the pay agreement which forms part of the Programme for Competitiveness and Work, except that a greater degree of deferral is being applied than Congress would have wished.

So that the House will be aware of the amount of expenditure at issue in the motion, I would point out that if the increases referred to were deferred for a full year the amount involved would be some £170,000 which represents 0.004 per cent of the Exchequer pay bill.

At the outset, I would like to take Deputies back to the days before the Review Body on Higher Remuneration in the Public Sector was established in 1969. At that stage, there was no mechanism whereby a totally objective and independent assessment could be made of the appropriate pay levels for top politicians, senior members of the Judicary, top civil servants and chief executives of State-sponsored bodies and other State agencies.

The main source of advice in relation to administrative and executive posts had to come from top civil servants who, with the best will in the world, were not in a position to take a global and detached view of the situation. They were faced with a particularly difficult task and no matter what advice they gave they could always be accused of being wrong. Their colleagues could accuse them of being too conservative in their own case and other top people in the public sector could feel that they did not have a sufficiently satisfactory appreciation of their particular job and of the level of remuneration that should apply to it. In the eyes of the public at large they could be accused of having an undue influence in determining their own rates of pay.

Making recommendations in relation to elected representatives — both ordinary Members and office holders — was, of course, particularly difficult. This was usually done by seeking the advice of a Committee of the Dáil or Dáil and Seanad. This could hardly have been regarded as an objective method.

The problems in relation to the provision of advice were, however, secondary to the problems posed for Government in relation to the taking of decisions on the levels of remuneration that should apply to top posts in the public sector. In the first place, pressure would come from time to time to increase rates in different parts of the public sector. One day it could be senior civil servants as a result of the implementation of an arbitration finding for staff lower down. Another day, it could be county managers for a similar reason, or because of other developments in their own area. Another time, it might be the chief executive of a major State-sponsored body where changed circumstances were felt to warrant a major revision of pay. Deputies will appreciate that while taking decisions on this ad hoc basis might solve the problems of the day it led, inevitably, to the creation of other problems across the board. The whole scene was unsatisfactory all round — it was haphazard and unco-ordinated.

Another major problem for the Government lay, of course, in the area of their being sole arbiters on the salaries that should be paid to themselves and their fellow politicians. While this was a very difficult problem for the Government in the first place, Members of this House were also faced with a situation whereby they would have to enact in legislation every single increase in remuneration not only for office holders but for themselves as well, without having the benefit of transparently objective advice.

Against this background the Review Body on Higher Remuneration in the Public Sector was established by the Government 25 years ago in order to address the problems I have outlined. Over the years the review body has achieved a very high standard of expertise and objectivity, and its recommendations have invariably been implemented. While its findings are not, of course, binding, the Government of the day would have to have very good reason to set them aside in the case of any group. It is always open to the Government to decide to delay implementation and this has been done in the past, and in the present case. However, this can only apply within limits, otherwise the value and standing of this independent body is undermined and rendered worthless. Deferrals, in all honesty, merely defer the payments that have been agreed as equitable and just. What possible sense, not to mention equity, could there be in so delaying awards as to make them worthless with regard to the very terms of reference on which they were based.

On this occasion the Government was dealing with Report 35 of the independent review body which made recommendations in relation to the remuneration of all top level posts in the public sector, including Government Ministers. The review body, which constituted eminent members drawn from the legal, industrial, commercial and agricultural segments of the private sector as well as two members from the Labour Court, recommended on this occasion that some 55 posts at the apex of the group of 650 with which they were dealing should receive substantially higher increases than the others. This was the view of the review body and they came to that view without any input whatsoever from the Government.

The review body indicates in its report that, in conducting its review, it carried out a survey, as on previous occasions, of the remuneration levels of posts in private sector organisations. These included indigenous public and private companies, financial organisations, agricultural co-operatives and subsidiaries of foreign companies operating here. In addition it examined available published information on executive salaries in the private sector, data in relation to movements in the CPI and average industrial earnings, and information which was provided in the various written and oral submissions.

In making comparison with posts in the private sector the review body took account of not only basic salary but also other benefits in cash or in kind. It also took account of the different cultures pertaining in the public and private sectors, making due allowance for factors like job security, and the strong sense of public service commitment among people serving in the public service. It was also acutely aware of the particular difficulties that pertain in determining appropriate levels of remuneration for elected representatives.

The review body accepted that the responsibilities and workload of the Taoiseach, the Tánaiste, Ministers and Ministers of State had increased very considerably in recent years as a result of a wide range of factors, including the increasing growth in the volume and complexity of public administration, the increased emphasis on achieving consensus with the social partners in relation to economic and social policy, and the increasing demands of the parliamentary system. It said that it has been particularly concerned with the need to ensure that the levels of remuneration for the very top posts within its remit, might more realistically reflect the heavy burdens of responsibility involved, and the extraordinary demands which are made on the holders of these positions. It considered that the current rates of remuneration payable to members of the Government failed to achieve this objective.

These statements from the review body are a clear indication of the thoroughness, objectivity and sense of fairness which it brought to its task. The resulting recommendations are extremely well grounded.

As regards the actual rates which are the subject of the motion, nobody in this House could argue with any degree of conviction that the rates are excessive by reference to what would be paid in the private sector for jobs with comparable levels of demands on the job-holder, in terms of time and range and level of responsibility. Members' knowledge and experience will bear this out and I would hope that those who are supporting the motion would have the grace and courage to at least admit this and acknowledge that they are playing a political game.

Recent experience in the public sector bears out the point I am making. In recent times it was necessary to go to the open market to recruit chief executives for some of our major commercial State bodies. To secure the appointment of those of the calibre needed it was necessary to agree a remuneration package well in excess of the rates which are at issue in the motion, even though members of the Government to whom these rates would apply are required to exercise overall responsibility over the companies in question.

In dealing with the review body recommendations, the Government had a number of options open to it. It could have rejected the findings in total, it could have deferred any decision for a further period, it could have accepted the recommendations in part or it could have accepted them in full.

It seems as if there never is a good time to give public servants a pay rise and Members of the House will note with great interest those who are opposed to the granting of these objectively-merited increases.

To reject the findings in total would have been unprecedented in the 25 year history of the review body. As Members will be aware, and as I have said, determining remuneration levels for themselves, politicians generally and top level posts in the Judiciary, Civil Service, Garda, Army, local authorities and health boards, harbour authorities and State-sponsored bodies has always, over the years, posed problems for the Government of the day. It was to help solve these problems that the Review Body on Higher Remuneration in the Public Sector was established. Since its inception 25 years ago, the review body has produced four general reports on the remuneration levels that should apply to the groups covered by its remit.

The recommendations in the first three reports were implemented by various Governments, in each case after an interval. What happened in relation to the fourth report also followed that pattern. That report was published in July 1992 and at that time the Government announced that the findings were acceptable in principle. Much later, in August 1994, the Government announced that the recommendations would be implemented, but on a phased basis, with the first phase applying from 1 April 1994 and the second from 1 May 1995 — more than three full years after the report was presented. Neither in July 1992 nor at any stage up to August 1994, when it was announced that the findings would be implemented, did the Opposition parties indicate that the findings should be rejected or, indeed, modified in any way. If I was politically bad-minded, which I am not, I would put on the record the reason that happened.

This is the Minister's chance if he has the moral courage to take it.

I will not bother. Purely partisan meanness and play-acting is behind this motion. Not in July 1992 when the validity of the claim was accepted, not in July 1993 and not in August 1994 when we announced a phased implementation of the awards was there a call for a rejection of these impartial findings.

To reject the findings would have made nonsense of the existence of the review body. It would also have gone against the express wishes of the Irish Congress of Trade Unions, a body that speaks for a majority of the workers in this State. In the context earlier this year of finalising the pay agreement which forms part of the Programme for Competitiveness and Work, Congress leaders sought a specific undertaking from the Taoiseach and the Tánaiste that the review body findings would be implemented. This request was made by Congress on the basis that the review body report should be treated in the same way as a number of “past the post” Labour Court or arbitration findings which had already been accepted in principle. These were to be implemented under special phasing arrangements outside the strict terms of the Programme for Competitiveness and Work. Congress was given an undertaking that the review body report would be implemented without exception and this has been done.

While the Government could have put off implementation further, this would amount to no more than postponing an award, and in the meantime many of the groups covered by the report — and we are talking here about people filling key posts in the public sector, including ordinary Members of this House and the Seanad — would feel a growing sense of grievance and frustration that their position was being ignored. For the past two years the all-party groups have been asking me to implement the report. In view of the fact that the report was already on hands for two years, and in the light of the representations made by the Irish Congress of Trade Unions, postponing indefinitely a decision on implementing the findings contained in Report No. 35 was not a real option in so far as the Government was concerned.

As regards a partial implementation only of the review body recommendations, this would have been an option when the Government was dealing with the question of implementation in July 1994 but there were cogent reasons against it.

It is important that the review body findings should be regarded as a coherent unified statement of the levels at which the groups covered by its remit should be remunerated and should be regarded as being acceptable on a global basis. Selectively to pick and choose from the overall package would be tantamount to a qualified rejection and could lead to the whole package becoming unravelled.

All groups have already experienced severe deferment. The first phase of the 1992 report was not being implemented until 1994, with full implementation deferred further until the middle of 1995. It would not make sense to push any aspect of implementation out further, particularly in view of the fact that the next review is due to commence in 1995, with the report due in 1996. Members on all sides will have great interest in that report.

The overall approach on this occasion was for the review body to recommend higher increases for those at the top of each grouping covered by the review body. The following percentage increases illustrate this point: chief executives of the larger State bodies, 13 per cent to 30 per cent; chief executives of the smaller bodies, nil; secretaries of Government Departments, 17 per cent; assistant secretaries, 1 per cent; Commissioner of the Garda Síochána, 9 per cent; assistant commissioner, 4 per cent; chief justice, 17 per cent; district justice, 8 per cent.

The differential is being widened.

It was the review body that decided.

Does the Deputy wish to abolish the review body and give the task back to the House?

We know what the final position is.

In the case of politicians, this approach is reflected in the recommendations. Members of the Government are bracketed with the higher posts in the other groups at 17 per cent with the non-office holding Members of the Dáil being placed at just less than 4 per cent. If the Government was to forgo the increases recommended in its own case, this would result in an imbalance in the relative position of politicians with the rates being paid to the top people in the other groups. What the Fine Gael motion is saying in effect is that the Government should have put the profession of the office-holder at a disadvantage with that of other groups; in other words, devalue the worth of the office-holder.

Future holders of these positions from the benches opposite are free now to announce their own decision to forgo and refuse to accept these increases when they take up the offices that we now hold.

This is becoming more likely every day.

I have always accepted in public life, both as Minister for Labour and Minister for Finance, that agreements freely entered into by consenting social partners should be fairly implemented. If the Members opposite feel that these increases are unwarranted, let them refuse to avail of them in their own case. In all fairness I must implement the independently arrived at review and enforce it on a phased basis. That is only right and proper.

From what I have outlined, I think every Deputy will accept that when the Government came to take a decision in July 1994 on a report issued in 1992 which was based on factual data for 1991 it had no real option but to implement the recommendations in full. It was fully conscious of the circumstances generally in which it was taking its decision and so decided to slow down implementation by phasing it into 1995. That was a significant step. To have gone beyond it would not have made sense. In particular, the singling out of any group, no matter who, for further deferment would not have been regarded as acceptable.

In the light of the position I have outlined, I see the motion tabled by Deputies Bruton and Yates as a cynical attempt to make a political issue out of what all Governments during the past 25 years have always regarded as a difficult area for them to handle. It is a shabby effort to further denigrate our difficult profession of politics. Where is the spirit of personal sacrifice among the members of Fine Gael that they wish unilaterally to impose on Members on this side of the House? It is also cynical for another reason.

The Minister is not in a strong position to lecture us about personal sacrifices.

Section 8 of the Oireachtas (Allowances to Members and Ministerial, Parliamentary and Judicial Offices) (Amendment) Act, 1983 provides that the Government order of 30 August 1994 which gives effect to the review body increases for politicians, including Ministers, be laid before Dáil Éireann. The section goes on to say that if a resolution annulling the order is passed by Dáil Éireann within the next 21 sitting days the order shall be annulled from the date of the passing of such a resolution. The particular order referred to, which was laid before the Dáil on 30 August 1994 in accordance with the provisions I have referred to, also provides for an increase in the personal remuneration of each Member of this House of 3.8 per cent or some £1,000 and of 7.6 per cent or some £20,000 for Deputy Bruton in his capacity as Leader of the main Opposition party. This is known as the party fund. It is cynical in the extreme that Deputy Bruton did not take his courage in his hands and endeavour to wipe the slate clean of all the special increases emanating from the review body recommendations by moving a motion to annul the order. I will leave it to Deputies themselves, and to the general public, to form their own views as to why Deputy Bruton did not adopt this course.

Will the Minister yield and allow me to clarify the matter?

May I finish the sentence?

This money is payable to the party; I do not receive a penny.

I said that this is known as the party fund.

This money is payable to my party; I do not receive a penny.

Why then did the Minister try to say that this is money I am getting?

I said this is known as the party fund.

The Minister will get a 17 per cent increase; the figure of £20,000 will be paid into Fine Gael Party funds and I will not receive a penny. The Minister is dragging the bottom of the barrel for arguments now.

If Deputy Bruton wants to make an issue out of this——

I am. It was the Minister who raised it.

Under the Order the Deputy will be given £20,000——

The Minister will not give it to me.

——and he can do whatever he likes with it.

I give every penny to my party and all my predecessors did likewise. The increases the Minister will get are personal to him.

There is a difference between a salary and a grant.

The Minister should not have raised this issue because he knows it is irrelevant. It has nothing to do with me. The day it arrives the cheque is sent straight to Fine Gael Party headquarters and I never see it.

I have no doubt about that but it forms part of the same order.

Was that always true in the Minister's party?

I was never party leader. Does Deputy Bruton want this House to annul the order and deprive Members?

Did the money always go to headquarters?

Nobody was ever told.

It did in my time. To my knowledge, as party treasurer, it was paid in full to party headquarters.

Nobody was ever told. The Minister should ask Senator Hanafin.

Does Deputy Bruton want this House to annul the Order and deprive members of his own party of increases to which they are fully entitled and at the same time does he want on behalf of Fine Gael to deprive that party of its just emoluments?

We will manage on our own if we have to.

I would like to address some of the points raised by the Fine Gael motion. A point is made about "the current industrial relations difficulties in State companies". I take it that, given the date on which the motion was tabled, 22 September 1994, this related in the main to Irish Steel and TEAM Aer Lingus. Since then I am happy to note that the problems in these two companies have been largely resolved and that we can all look forward to a bright future for them.

As regards the other point —"maintaining control of public expenditure and improving the competitiveness of our economy"— these are major goals of which I, as Minister for Finance, am continually conscious. In no way would I see the pay increases in question having a negative impact in this area. The Government would not have taken the decision it did on implementation if there were any risk on this front. In this context the standing terms of reference of the review body requires it, in making its recommendations, to have regard to the state of the public finances and Government pay policy. I am fully satisfied that the eminent members of the independently constituted review body had full regard to these factors when making their recommendations in 1992.

The motion proposes the deferment of the increases but the increases have already been deferred to a considerable extent. This is illustrated by the fact that: the recommendations in question were based on the outcome of a review of salaries carried out in 1991; the review body report was published early in 1992; a decision to implement the recommendations was not taken until July 1994 and payments are phased over 1994 and 1995, the second phase not being paid until May 1995.

To push deferment beyond that, either generally or in relation to any specific group, would make a nonsense of the whole report and of the review body. This is particularly so when we consider that the next review is due to get underway in 1995 with the report due in 1996.

Many unworthy and personalised remarks have been made in this debate about the Taoiseach and the Tánaiste. They are as unworthy as the squalid motives of their perpetrators. In the business world, on the shop floor and in the public sector, performance-related pay is an increasingly important feature of incentives to working people.

We agree with that.

——and so it should be.

But, 3 per cent.

The leaders of the Government have brought great distinction to this island——

We now know what the peace dividend is——

The Progressive Democrats were party to the Government who accepted this.

The decision was made in 1994 and we were not in Government then.

There were good reasons to defer the increases. At that stage we would have been in the middle of the round and we waited until the very end.

The Government knew also that the Progressive Democrats Party would not have allowed it. The Government waited until it had a more compliant partner.

I have no criticism of the Progressive Democrats Party on this issue.

The Minister might need them.

Do not try to tie the Progressive Democrats Party into a 1994 position.

The party is tied into a decision of 1992.

The financial situation was taken into consideration. It is grossly offensive.

I know the Deputy's views but it will help the pension position of Deputies Bruton and Molloy.

The leaders of the Government have brought great distinction to this island by contributing so much to the peace process, even if this process has yet to become consolidated or universal. This work cannot be counted or accounted for in seconds and minutes, pennies and pounds. It will undoubtedly be worth many millions of pounds to Ireland, North and South, in terms of increased investment, tourism, trade, increased employment, leisure, countless cross-Border joint ventures. These are extremely important. In the same way as a result of good management we have by universal acknowledgment, one of the best performing economies in Europe, with average growth rate at 5 per cent, very low inflation, massive inward and indigenous investment and a rising level of net employment.

The Taoiseach and Tánaiste are worth every penny of the increase to which they have been independently deemed to be entitled.

Who wrote this?

Many people in different walks of life are paid considerably more for considerably fewer national responsibilities. For the reasons I outlined, I commend this amendment to the House.

Give this programme manager a pay rise. This is the best spin I heard in a long time.

Let me correct Deputy Yates on some of the matters he got wrong.

Incomplete information has been published regarding the remuneration of other Prime Ministers. First, virtually every Prime Minister in the European Union, with the exception of Ireland, has one or more official residences with staff provided. The British Prime Minister has a country house as well as 10 Downing Street. Many of the figures published in the Sunday Tribune last week are for the Prime Minister's salary only and exclude his salary as a Deputy. Deputy Yates excluded their salaries as Deputies in the figures he quoted. We must compare like with like. For example, the Belgian Prime Minister gets £88,000 on this basis and an official residence and not £44,700. Equally, the Danish Prime Minister gets £87,000 and not £44,000 as suggested in the article in the Sunday Tribune and has the use of an official residence. We understand that the Greek Prime Minister gets a very substantial personal allowance, the size of which is not in the public domain, but a six figure sum which brings his emolument above the level of the Taoiseach's.

Practically all the European Prime Ministers are in the £80,000 to £100,000 pay range, with the crucial difference that the other Prime Ministers have an official residence provided, which is a valuable form of benefit in kind. For instance, Belgian MPs get a housing allowance of £1,000 per month. The Prime Minister's housing allowance in kind must be considered to be at least as good, and this would bring his salary up to £100,000. Outside the European Union, the Australian Prime Minister is paid £136,000. These facts are in the public domain.

The notion that the Taoiseach is better remunerated than his counterparts is simply unsustainable. Taking into account the benefit in kind of an official residence, he will now be paid at a comparable level to the vast majority of his colleagues around the European Council table. This is surely, as it should be.

I wish to give my few remaining minutes to my colleague Deputy Sean Power.

I hope Deputy Power will be looked after in the reshuffle.

An impartial review body decided to award increases to 600 people but following much media coverage the party opposite decided to table the motion before us tonight.

The debate focused on two people in the main, the Tánaiste and the Taoiseach and to a lesser extent on Ministers. It is unfortunate that we cannot debate the issue without pensonalising it. Deputy John Bruton went out of his way to paint a picture of the Taoiseach as untrustworthy and someone who should not hold this position.

That is right.

The Taoiseach and the Tánaiste delivered a deal on Northern Ireland a few weeks ago and the reason he was able to do so was that the people trusted him to do it. All Irish people feel very proud of this achievement and we will always owe him a debt of gratitude for his efforts in that regard.

We often refer to the low esteem in which politicians are held and to the cynicism of the electorate but this debate does not help the situation. We have tried to compare the remuneration of the Taoiseach to that of other Prime Ministers, however the rewards offered by the private sector to somebody holding a similar position would be far greater. I would go even further, most people accept that the Taoiseach and the Tánaiste would be better off in the private sector.

We are here to give public service.

I am not denying that.

The sincerity of this motion must be questioned. A question that should be addressed to members of the Progressive Democrats Party and the Fine Gael Party who have held ministerial office is whether they will refuse or defer the increase to their pension that these changes will create. Members must answer that question. If those who tabled the motion are sincere the answer to that question must be yes but we all know that Members will accept it with both hands.

The Deputy should examine the record of the House before he makes these kinds of allegations.

The Deputy's record on pensions is not very good and Deputy Molloy would be as well off to stay quiet.

The Deputy's time is exhausted.

It is grossly irresponsible for any Taoiseach, Tánaiste or any set of Ministers to vote themselves annual increases of this magnitude at any time, even at the best of times. It is little short of obscene that they should choose to do so at this juncture. It is a time of maximum challenge and worry for every worker in the commercial State sector as their companies struggle to come to terms with the open market and the competitive environment of the post-Maastricht European Union. I refer to the rationalisation that has already taken place in a number of State companies and is due to take place in a number of others. I refer specifically to the problems of Irish Steel as they occurred in my area. I wish to pay tribute to Deputy Mulvihill for the very active and sustained part he played in trying to bring about a successful settlement of the problems in Irish Steel.

An excellent Deputy.

He has one of our seats. That is the only problem.

In Irish Steel the company attempted to put in place an £8.4 million cost saving survival plan. Months of negotiation took place which rocked the community of Cobh to its foundations. The demands made on them sent shock waves down the spines of the workers in Irish Steel because of the extent of the sacrifices they were called upon to make to ensure the plant's survival and the retention of some of the jobs. The shedding of jobs, in addition to pay freezes, was recommended in the context of that survival plan. The workers put their country and their company first and made the sacrifices. They accepted the job shedding and the pay freezes to enable the plant to be saved and by so doing they gave some cause for optimism.

Where was the Minister for Enterprise and Employment during this crisis in Irish Steel? Did he play a proactive role in this process? He did not. Like Louis XIV he stood back in splendid isolation and let the whole process take its course. Everybody knows that if he had travelled to Cork and played a more active role that final resolution would have been brought about in a speedier way and a great amount of taxpayers' money would have been saved.

When all this trauma was taking place in Irish Steel, where were the Taoiseach and the Tánaiste? They were jetting around the world, passing one another in mid air, one going east while the other was going west. If there is a precedent in history for this kind of cavalier behaviour, it can only come from the Bourbons of France in the days leading up to the French Revolution when Marie Antoinette, from a distance, said: "Let them eat cake". That was how this Government behaved during the traumatic events in Cork.

What happened in Cork, to one degree or another, is due to be repeated throughout the State commercial sector, company by company. The ESB already has its own cost saving plan on the table involving, I understand, the shedding of approximately 2,900. Bord Telecom is heading for an even greater challenge. Aer Lingus is at the beginning of a viability plan and the list goes on. There is one factor, however, that all of these companies have in common. In the case of each company major sacrifices will be demanded. There will be pain not only for the workers but for their families also, who will be expected to put in place in their households vastly reduced budgets.

In such circumstances the Government should seize the opportunity to give good example, to give leadership and decide that on this occasion they will forgo these huge salary increases. What standing has a Minister when he addresses a conference or a seminar and recommends, as he does, that they tighten their belts?

Most of the financial and banking people coming into see me are earning well over £100,000.

I am talking about the people who are paid from the taxpayers purse. The Minister should not try to mix the various groups.

That is the group with which the review body compared us.

We are told there must be belt tightening, there must be pay freezes.

The Minister cannot disregard public opinion in this way.

We are being asked to except this small group of privileged people. If there was ever a time since the foundation of the State when a Government had an opportunity to give leadership, to point the way and to create an environment within which all these rationalisation programmes could be put in place and where the suffering could at least be made a little more palatable to the workers, the time is now. The Government passed up this opportunity. It is totally out of touch with what is happening in the country and what is due to happen.

I would argue that in a republic there should not be such a disparity between the earnings of one sector and another, all of whom are paid out of the public purse. Consider, for example, the Taoiseach's annual increase which amounts to almost £14,000. The Tánaiste's annual increase is £12,304. How does that compare with the annual income of other workers in the public sector? A young member of the Garda Síochána, after three years on the beat, risking his life against a rising tide of crime, is paid £13,261. That figure is substantially less than the annual increase we are giving to the Taoiseach. That is the topping up he is being given in addition to an already sizeable salary. A qualified nurse charged with life and death duties in a hospital who has completed three years training receives an annual salary of £13,552. That is less than the annual increase we are now giving to the Taoiseach.

The picture is broadly similar in the case of teachers. A qualified primary teacher must be teaching for three years before the annual salary exceeds the level of the salary increase to the Taoiseach. The same broadly applies in the case of secondary school teachers. The Taoiseach's pay rise is greater than the average industrial wage. Thousands of families must rear, clothe and feed their children with an annual income which is less than the——

People who used to support the Labour Party.

——annual increase being given to the Taoiseach.

Look after yourself. What about the other incomes the Deputy has?

I am more in favour of the Ethics Bill.

It is not as if the Taoiseach is badly paid. He was earning £82,000 so he was not doing badly when one considers that there are 300,000 people out of work in this little Republic and that our GDP is not exactly at the top of the EC league and does not compare with the GDP in countries the Minister took for comparative salary purposes. The Taoiseach will receive an annual increase in excess of what we pay a young garda, nurse, teacher or worker on an average industrial wage. Surely that is the ultimate obscenity in a country that calls itself a Republic.

How can the Government insist that public sector workers must confine their pay demands to the level of inflation, in other words to 2.5 or 3 per cent when they blithely award themselves pay rises of 17 per cent and are already in receipt of hefty salaries? How can the Government with its sizeable Labour element tell workers on an average industrial wage of £13,100 that they must forego pay rises while Ministers with free ministerial cars, offices, office staff and a host of other perks are paid salary increases in excess of 17 per cent?

It has been said that this is a Government in exile and it is in the truly quintessential meaning of that word because it is in exile from the people. It is out of touch with the reality of everyday life lived by the majority of citizens. It is a Government of gross extravagance, living wildly beyond our means and has done so since assuming office. Highly paid programme managers earn £40,000 a year. I said before that if the Government had decided to appoint an equivalent number of judges to district courts the position in regard to crime and its horrendous consequences for citizens would be different. If its priorities had been right the Government would have appointed judges instead of programme managers.

The Taoiseach has been out of the country on 36 occasions since he took office in 1993. Consider the cost of that to taxpayers.

He always has a lovely sun tan.

While he is topping up his tan think of the workers roasting in Irish Steel and TEAM Aer Lingus. We live in a strange country. The Dáil has resumed after a lengthy recess but the Government has not put a legislative programme in place for this session. I have been a Member of the House for eight and a half years and this is the first time I could not get a copy of the legislative programme for the new session. I believed the Government would have prepared the Juvenile Justice Bill but there is no evidence that it will be brought before the Dáil in this session despite the fact that 40 per cent of all crime is committed by juveniles with horrendous consequences for the victims and for the young people themselves who are doing untold and irreversible damage to their prospects. Despite that we are still working under juvenile justice legislation enacted in 1908. It is not as if the groundwork for the Bill had not been done. An all party committee which I chaired spent six months putting firm recommendations in place which would form the basis of this long overdue and badly needed Bill. Yet there is no indication that such a Bill will be put on the agenda.

What about the Waste Management Bill so badly needed and long overdue? We all see the rubbish on our streets, unauthorised dumping and the failure to use modern technologies to deal with waste and refuse in the manner of other European countries. The bones of that Bill were put in place by Deputy Harney as Minister of State at the Department of the Environment. The Bill was practically brought to fruition when the Coalition Government was brought down by the comments and behaviour of the Taoiseach. Will this Government be brought down by similar behaviour before the Waste Management Bill comes before the House? The Minister for Arts and Culture promised the broadcasting Bill but there is no sign of that on the agenda for this session. That is how the Government orders business for this House. Deputies have come back from their holidays prepared to tackle new legislation and bring existing legislation up to date. I have never seen such a cavalier approach by a Government since I was elected to the House.

The Government is out of touch with what people are saying and thinking. It is so caught up with projecting itself in the media and looking towards the camera that it has forgotten to look at the people who voted for it. It has left the electorate behind and unless it changes its tune there will be a vastly different result at the next election. However that is no consolation to the taxpayers who are called on to foot the bill for these huge pay increases which have been brought into being. It is no argument for the Minister for Finance to say that the Taoiseach is worth every penny he gets. How does one measure the work of a Taoiseach? The General Secretary of the INTO is in the gallery——

There should be no reference to persons in the gallery.

Perhaps we should have comparative studies on the relative merits of the Taoiseach compared to Seán Lemass, Jack Lynch, Charles Haughey, Garret FitzGerald, Liam Cosgrave, John A. Costello and others——

Not to mention Nelson Mandela and John F. Kennedy.

Dessie O'Malley.

How can one say that the Taoiseach deserves this amount of money? Perhaps we should initiate a programme of comparative studies which would form part of the study of political science in our colleges.

If one were to do that it would certainly cost more than the £65,000 net this will cost.

If we were to do that——

Has the Deputy costed the time we are wasting here tonight?

The Minister's discomfort is noted.

This is a democracy.

I know, but this is boring.

The Minister is in bad form tonight.

Much reference has been made to the incomes of various people in the public sector but no reference has been made to the incomes of the large number of people — approximately 300,000 — who are out of work. Who in the Government gives a damn about the incomes of those families?

Debate adjourned.